Sunday, November 28, 2010

Delicate Muffins

I found this in one of my Mom's cookbooks when I was a teenager.  My favorite muffin, very simple and very easy to dress up.

Delicate Muffins
2 c all-purpose flour
4 t baking powder
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c melted butter

Combine dry ingredients and whisk. Add wet and stir gently to combine, do not over mix.
Bake at 400F for 20 minutes - until just brown.  Makes 12.

My Own Variations:
1-2 tablespoons fresh cranberry orange relish
1 c dried cranberries (orange flavored or otherwise, soaked in warm water before to plump).

1 apple, chopped small
1/2 c sliced almonds
1/2 t vanilla
1 c plain greek yogurt
(substitute 3/4 c milk with 3/4 c water)

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish

Being far away from Trader Joe's, I had to figure out how to make my favorite Thanksgiving condiment.  And who knew it was so easy!?  You'll want a food processor with a chopping blade.  Best made the night before so the flavors have a chance to mingle.

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish
1 bag cranberries
1 orange
1 t vanilla
1/4-3/4 c sugar

Rinse cranberries and pick through.  Add zest from orange.  Cut segments from orange and add (no pithy white part - it's too bitter). Add vanilla and depending on how sweet your orange is, sugar to your liking.  1/2 c is safe, but occasionally you need more or less.   As good with your Thanksgiving turkey as it is on vanilla ice cream or in Delicate Muffins.  Mmmm...

Creamy Curry Chicken

Grandmother says this is the best curry she's ever had (and that in her 82 years, she's had a lot of curry).  It's also one of my sister-in-law's favorite dishes.  As a bonus, it's dairy and gluten free (so long as your broth is too).

Creamy Curry Chicken
4 pounds chicken, cut to bite size pieces* 
3-4 T Madras Curry Powder (yellow), divided
(2) 18.5oz can Coconut Cream (look for 70% or more)
(1) 14oz can chicken broth/stock
1 t ginger paste (optional)
1 t lemongrass paste (optional)
2 T olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in large skillet or wok on high heat. Toss chicken to coat with oil.
Brown chicken with 1 T curry powder, salt & pepper.  When liquid has almost evaporated, pour in broth and return to a boil for approx. 5 minutes (this should finish cooking the chicken).
Add coconut milk, remainder of curry powder, and remaining seasonings.  Simmer on medium heat until thickened.  Serve over steamed rice with vegetable of choice.

When it's too hot for this dish, but you still want curry... check out Joni's Curry Chicken Salad.  It's our "summer curry".

*I recently doubled this for a big family meal.  Instead of attempting to cut up 8 lbs of chicken breast myself, I called to get a price to have it pre-cut and found out they don't charge extra.  $2.99/lb to have it cut up for me!  What a time saver.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mashed Potatoes with roasted garlic, rosemary and parmesan

You know mashed potatoes are good when you fight over who gets to lick the bowl.

This is a conglomeration of recipes, so I'm calling it my own.  It's the magic that happens when you read a half-dozen mashed potato recipes on the week before Thanksgiving.  You could easily half this, as written it served 13 with only a couple cups leftovers.  

Mashed Potatoes with roasted garlic, rosemary and parmesan
4 lbs red potatoes
4 lbs yukon gold potatoes
1 t salt

Wash, trim and cube potatoes (I peeled about 1/3 of them). Cook in salted water until they fall apart when pierced with a fork.  Remove from heat and drain, reserving about 1 cup of water.

4 heads garlic (16 cloves), roasted
1 c milk, 2%
4 T butter
1 T fresh rosemary, minced
6 T parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper to taste (I started with 1 t salt and added from there)

Combine above in small saucepan and bring to a low simmer.  I used an immersion blender to liquefy the garlic, you could also toss it into a blender.  Mix into mashed potatoes, serve.  Hope for leftovers.

Roasted Garlic

This takes all the bite out of garlic, making it oh-so-yummy and almost sweet.

Cut the top off a bulb of garlic, exposing the top of each clove.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Wrap in foil, leaving some air space (I put the bulb in the middle and twist up the top almost like a chocolate kiss).  Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350F.

Use in my favorite mashed potatoes or spread on top of steak like horseradish.

Cuisinart Pie Crust

I've come to find there are a lot of recipes for pie crust out there... I don't have the patience for most of them.  Raise your hand if you enjoy cutting butter into flour.  Didn't think so.  This, however, is fantastic.  Quick, easy, and seemingly foolproof.  I've used it twice now, once savory and once sweet - changing only the amount of salt.

Cuisinart Pie Crust
1-3/4 c flour (unbleached all purpose)
1 stick (8 T) butter, cut up
3 T oil (olive)
1 t salt (reduce to 1/4 t for sweet -or- use unsalted butter and add 3/4 t)
1/4 c ice water

Pulse flour, butter, oil & salt until crumbly.  Drizzle in ice water and blend just until a ball starts to form.

Dump out onto parchment paper or a sil-pat and roll thin.  Place pie pan on top and flip the whole thing over.  Fold the extra dough under, all the way around the edge, and pinch.  Chill in the fridge before baking, 30 minutes or overnight.  Makes 1 double or 2 single crusts.

Make sure to cover/seal dough well when refrigerating.  You don't want any rogue odors latching on when you're not looking.
To pre-bake shells (like for cheesy chicken pot pie) prick holes around crust with a fork and bake for ~15 minutes at 375F. If bubbles appear, carefully pierce with a skewer and smooth down with a long-handled spoon.  You can also put parchment paper in the crust and fill it with dry beans or use pie weights.
If you're feeling fancy, you can seal them with an egg glaze.  Just beat an egg, brush it on the hot crust then return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.  (I haven't tried this, too lazy when without is just fine... but now you know what I know).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Breakfast Cookies

I adapted these from a recipe on the Cheerios website.  I liked them, Stan not so much, but he's not really a breakfast person anyway.  The cereal on the outside was still a little crunchy, like it would be normally, and the ones in the middle were just part of the cookie. 

Cheerios Breakfast Monsters

1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat or oat flour (toss your oats in the blender until it resembles flour)
1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups Cheerios® cereal

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. In large bowl, stir together sugar, butter, almond/peanut butter, water, vanilla and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients except cereal. Gently stir in cereal. (If you want crunchier finished cookies, bake these now - for softer finished cookies let the dough stand a while.) On large cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper, drop dough by rounded 1/2 cupfuls (rounded 1/3 cupfuls for 15 cookies) 4 inches apart. Flatten dough to about 1 inch thick.

3. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before removing from cookie sheet. DON'T OVERCOOK.  Store loosely covered.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pumpkin Crunch

A requirement at our Thanksgiving table, this is one of those recipes that has you using 14 other recipes trying to describe it... it's kind of like pumpkin pie, or cobbler, but not really, and sorta like pecan pie, but with pumpkin... when really, it is an awesome dessert in a class all it's own!  If you love pumpkin, pecans, butter (who doesn't) and cake, you're in luck. This recipe has it all, is super simple to make, and is always met with rave reviews! 

Pumpkin Crunch
1 box butter pecan cake mix (yellow will also work)
1 (15 oz) can solid pack pumpkin
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 -1 cup chopped pecans (or more)
1 cup salted butter, melted

Whipped cream, ice cream or whipped topping.

Oven 350. Lightly greased 9 x 13 pan.

Combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and salt in large bowl.  Pour into pan.

Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture. Top with pecans.

Drizzle melted butter over pecans.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes, or until light golden brown. Serve warm* or chilled with whipped topping.

*Thanks to Megan for bringing it to small group last night, giving me credit for the recipe, and prompting me to finally get it on the blog!  And it was SOOO yummy (I think I've been over cooking mine)!  Mmmm... yummy!